National Health Observances

Vaccine Safety

Vaccine Safety

Vaccines are safe and effective. Because vaccines are given to millions of healthy people — including children — to prevent serious diseases, they’re held to very high safety standards.

In this section, you’ll learn more about vaccine safety — and get answers to common questions about vaccine side effects.


How are vaccines tested for safety?


Every licensed and recommended vaccine goes through years of safety testing including:

  • Testing and evaluation of the vaccine before it’s licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended for use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Monitoring the vaccine’s safety after it is recommended for infants, children, or adults


Vaccines are tested before they’re recommended for use


Before a vaccine is ever recommended for use, it’s tested in labs. This process can take several years. FDA uses the information from these tests to decide whether to test the vaccine with people.

During a clinical trial, a vaccine is tested on people who volunteer to get vaccinated. Clinical trials start with 20 to 100 volunteers, but eventually include thousands of volunteers. These tests take several years and answer important questions like:

  • Is the vaccine safe?
  • What dose (amount) works best?
  • How does the immune system react to it?

Throughout the process, FDA works closely with the company producing the vaccine to evaluate the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. All safety concerns must be addressed before FDA licenses a vaccine.


Every batch of vaccines is tested for quality and safety


Once a vaccine is approved, it continues to be tested. The company that makes the vaccine tests batches to make sure the vaccine is:

  • Potent (It works like it’s supposed to)
  • Pure (Certain ingredients used during production have been removed)
  • Sterile (It doesn’t have any outside germs)

FDA reviews the results of these tests and inspects the factories where the vaccine is made. This helps make sure the vaccines meet standards for both quality and safety.


Vaccines are monitored after they’re recommended to the public


Once a vaccine is licensed and recommended for use, FDA, CDC, and other federal agencies continue to monitor its safety.

Check out this infographic for details on how vaccines are developed, approved, and monitored.


There are many different parts of the national vaccine monitoring system


The United States has one of the most advanced systems in the world for tracking vaccine safety. Each of the systems below supplies a different type of data for researchers to analyze. Together, they help provide a full picture of vaccine safety.

  • Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS): VAERS is an early warning system managed by CDC and FDA that is designed to find possible vaccine safety issues. Patients, health care professionals, vaccine companies, and others can use VAERS to report side effects that happen after a patient received a vaccine. Some side effects might be related to vaccination while others might be a coincidence (happen by chance). VAERS helps track unusual or unexpected patterns of reporting that could mean there’s a possible vaccine safety issue that needs further evaluation.
  • The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD): VSD is a collaboration between CDC and several health care organizations across the nation. VSD uses databases of medical records to track vaccine safety and do research in large populations. By using medical records instead of self-reports, VSD can quickly study and compare data to find out if reported side effects are linked to a vaccine.
  • Post-licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring System (PRISM)PRISM is part of the Sentinel Initiative, which is FDA’s national system for monitoring medical products after they’re licensed for use. PRISM focuses on vaccine safety — it uses a database of health insurance claims to identify and evaluate possible safety issues for licensed vaccines.
  • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project (CISA): CISA is a collaboration between CDC and a national network of vaccine safety experts from medical research centers. CISA does clinical vaccine safety research and — at the request of providers — evaluates complex cases of possible vaccine side effects in specific patients.
  • Additional research and testing: The Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have systems to monitor vaccine safety and do vaccine safety research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) also support ongoing research on vaccines and vaccine safety.


Managing Itch

The itch of psoriasis may have a bigger impact on quality of life than the visible aspect of the disease.

Itch is present in 70 to 90 percent of psoriasis patients, yet it is only in the last decade that itch has been recognized as a common symptom of the disease, says Gil Yosipovitch, M.D., chairman of the Department of Dermatology and director of the Center for Itch at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Psoriatic itch is different than that of other skin disorders. Some people have described it as a burning sensation. Others compare it to the feeling of being bitten by fire ants. Doctors were once taught that psoriatic patients couldn’t have both itch and pain, but scientists now know that itch and pain signals travel along different pathways in the spinal cord, Yosipovitch says.

Treating psoriasis also can profoundly improve these symptoms and your ability to cope with psoriasis on a day-to-day basis.

Read on for tips on handling the itch of psoriasis.

  • Stress and itch
  • Home remedies
  • Prescription treatments

Stress and itch

Stress is a common trigger for a psoriasis flare. Stress also can make itch worse. This makes managing stress a particularly important skill for people with psoriasis. Consider the following ways some people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are effectively reducing stress in their lives.

  • Jon-Kabat Zinn, M.D., is considered a leader in the mindfulness meditation movement. He describes mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” Meditation has been described as a good way to clear the mind, slow racing thoughts and relieve anxiety. You can give it try yourself: For 15 minutes, sit comfortably on the floor, with eyes closed or barely open, and focus on your breathing.
  • Exercise increases production of endorphins, chemicals that improve mood and energy. Exercise also has been shown to improve sleep and decrease anxiety. A large U.S. study showed that women who regularly participate in vigorous exercise are less likely to get psoriasis than less-active women. If you haven’t been active for a while, talk to your health care provider before starting any exercise program.
  • Get outside help.Consider taking a course in stress management or finding a therapist in your area who specializes in stress management. Connecting with others who know what you are going through can help, too. Connect with someone who’s been through what you’re going through with Psoriasis One to One. You can also connect with people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis on

Home remedies

The following are ways people with psoriasis help relieve itch:

  • Keep skin moisturized.This is the first step in controlling itch because it reduces redness and itching and helps the skin heal. Dermatologists recommend heavy creams and ointments to lock water into the skin. Cooking oils and even shortening can be inexpensive substitutes for commercial moisturizers.
  • Remove scale and flaking.Apply a scale-softening (keratolytic) product to reduce excess skin and prevent psoriasis plaques from cracking and flaking. Over-the-counter lotions that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic acid, urea or phenol can help remove scale. Removing scale can reduce itch and make itch-relieving lotions and ointments more effective.
  • Cold showers and cold packs also can offer relief.Avoid hot baths and try to limit showers to 10 minutes or less. Hot water can make skin irritation and dryness worse. Apply lotion after washing to lock in moisture. Store lotions in the refrigerator. The feeling of a cool lotion on itchy skin can help.
  • Over-the-counter treatments can help.There are several ingredients that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating itch. Some of these include calamine, hydrocortisone (a weak steroid), camphor, diphenhydramine hydrochloride (HCl), benzocaine and menthol. Be aware that these ingredients may increase irritation and dryness.

Prescription treatments

Simply treating your psoriasis can help reduce itch. If your psoriasis is moderate or severe, or your itch is particularly bothersome, consider asking your doctor to put you on a more aggressive treatment.

Aspirin and noradrenergic and specific serotonergic (NaSSA) antidepressants also can relieve itch, Yosipovitch says. Gabapentin, a drug more commonly used to treat neurological pain, can help, too.

There also are prescription treatments that specifically help with itch, such as:

  • Antihistamines
  • Phototherapy
  • Steroids
  • Topical treatments that contain capsaicin
  • Topical anesthetics like Pramoxine

Topical anesthetics like Pramoxine


Screen Use for Kids

There are many reasons for parents to be thoughtful about how much screen time they allow their children. Amount of screen use per day has been associated with developmental outcomes, obesity, poor sleep quality and eye development. Research from Canada has also found that preschoolers who had more than two hours of screen time per day had a nearly-8-fold increase in ADHD.

Expert organizations have created guidance for parents to help understand the facts uncovered in scientific research. The World Health Organization’s 2019 guidelines suggest no screen time at all for children before age 1, and very limited screen time for children for several years after that.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months and focusing on educational media when children do start using screens.

Effects of Screen Use on Children’s Eyes

The American Academy of Ophthalmology does not have specific recommendations for amount of screen time for children. But parents should be aware of the possible effects of screen use on children’s eyes, as well as the broader health concerns raised by other groups like the WHO.

Myopia (Nearsightedness) and Close Work and Reading

The number of people developing nearsightedness in the United States has nearly doubled since 1971. In Asia, up to 90 percent of teenagers and adults are nearsighted, a dramatic increase over recent generations.

A 2019 study published in Ophthalmology—the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology—offers more evidence that at least part of the worldwide increase in nearsightedness has to do with near work activities. It’s not just screens affecting eye development, it’s also traditional books and the amount of time spent indoors overall. The study also found that spending time outdoors—especially in early childhood—can slow the progression of nearsightedness.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain isn’t a single eye condition, like glaucoma or pink eye. It’s a name for the kinds of symptoms that people experience when they spend too long looking at a screen. These symptoms can include dry eyes, itchy eyes, blurry vision and headaches. These symptoms are temporary, and no permanent damage is being done to the eyes.

The easiest way to avoid digital eye strain (or eye strain from any extended near-focus task like reading or sewing) is to make sure to blink often and to look up from your screen or close-up work every 20 minutes and focus at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This strategy of frequent re-focusing is called the 20-20-20 rule, and lets the eyes relax and reset.

Sleep Disruption from Screen Use

While some of the dangers of blue light may have been overhyped in recent years, screen use too close to bed time can harm sleep quality. And sleep is important enough to childhood development that the World Health Organization made sleep one of the focuses of their latest recommendations.

Eye Comfort and Safety Tips for Children and Screens

The best way to deal with possible effects of screens on children’s eyes and vision is to help them set good habits for use. These same tips are good practices for adults and anyone suffering from chronic dry eyes or eye strain.

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Set a timer to remind the child how often to look into the distance.
  • Alternate reading an e-book with a real book and encourage kids to look up and out the window every other chapter.
  • After completing a level in a video game, look out the window for 20 seconds.
  • Pre-mark books with a paperclip every few chapters to remind your child to look up. On an e-book, use the “bookmark” function for the same effect.
  • Avoid using screens outside or in brightly lit areas, where the glare on the screen can create strain.
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast of the screen so that it feels comfortable.
  • Use good posture when using a screen. Poor posture can contribute to muscle tightness and headaches associated with eye strain.
  • Encourage your child to hold digital media farther away: 18 to 24 inches is ideal.
  • Remind them to blink when watching a screen.


Four Hidden Signs of Vision Problems in Kids

As summer winds down, families of school-aged children scramble to get backpacks, clothes and other supplies ready for the new school year. But one of the most important yet often overlooked necessities is healthy vision.

As children grow and change from year to year, so do their eyes and vision. School demands intense visual involvement. It doesn’t matter if children are in the classroom or learning from home. Learning can involve reading, writing, computer and chalkboard/smartboard work. Even physical education and sports need strong vision. If their eyes aren’t up to the task, a child may feel tired and have trouble concentrating and learning.

Sometimes parents can tell if their child has a vision problem. Their child may squint or hold reading material very close to their face. They may also complain about things appearing blurry. There are some less obvious signs of vision problems as well.

Here are four subtle signs that could point to vision problems in kids.

1. Having a Short Attention Span

Your child might seem to quickly lose interest in games, projects or other lengthy activities.

2. Losing Their Place When Reading

As your child reads (aloud or silently), they may have difficulty seeing to keep track of where they are on the page.

3. Avoiding Reading and Other Close Activities

Your child may avoid reading, drawing, playing games or doing other projects that need up-close focus. Children can be subtle about it and not tell you about the trouble they are having.

4. Turning Their Head to the Side

A child may turn their head to the side when looking at something in front of them. This may be a sign of a refractive error, including astigmatism. Turning their head helps the child see better.

Eye Screenings Are Crucial

Success in school is closely tied to eye health, so kids need regular eye screenings. An ophthalmologist or another trained professional can find and treat vision problems early. The earlier the treatment the better off your child will be—in and out of school. If your child is still having difficulty after their vision problems are addressed, they might have a learning disability. Vision problems do not cause learning disabilities. They are two separate issues. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s vision, be sure to ask your child’s doctor.


Gastroparesis Traveling Tips

Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach empties too slowly, causing nausea, vomiting, pain, bloating, fullness, and/or reflux. There are very few effective treatments for the condition, so most patients rely on careful adherence to dietary and lifestyle modifications to minimize symptoms.

While managing gastroparesis at home can be difficult, traveling poses an even greater challenge. With the right preparation, however, it is possible to enjoy time away with family and friends without compromising symptom management.

Before You Go

  • Be sure to take your needs into account when making travel arrangements.
  • If you’ll be staying in a hotel, request a room with a small refrigerator or kitchenette. This gives you the flexibility to store and/or prepare some of your own food.
  • If you’ll be staying with friends or family, inform them of your medical condition and consequent dietary restrictions. Either provide a detailed list of what you can and cannot eat or let them know that you will be bringing and preparing your own food.
  • If you’ll be traveling by air and will need to bring liquid meal replacements or medication on board your flight, contact the TSA at 866-289-9673 to make special arrangements. If you have the Enterra gastric neurostimulator, be sure to pack the device identification card in your carry-on luggage so that you can present it at all security check points.
  • Keep an on-going list of gastroparesis-friendly foods that you know you can safely eat. This will come in handy when dining away from home.
  • Pack nutrient-dense, portable snacks for travel days and an ample amount of gastroparesis-friendly staples for the duration of your trip.
  • Pack all medications, supplements, remedies, and symptom management tools that you use at home, both on a regular and as-needed or emergency basis.
  • If you rely on smoothies, purees, or protein shakes as part of your daily diet, invest in a portable blender to use when you reach your destination.

Travel Day

  • Regardless of how you’re traveling, bring your own food and pack twice as much you think you’ll need. Delays are unpredictable and you can never be sure there will be gastroparesis-friendly options along the way.
  • You may find that you’re more prone to motion sickness than you were prior to having gastroparesis. Have a variety of nausea remedies on hand, just in case.
  • Follow your typical meal plan as closely as possible. Rather than snacking all day, which is likely to provide little nutrition and leave you feeling full but unsatisfied, eat well-balanced mini-meals at regular intervals.
  • Eat mindfully and in a relaxed environment – not in the car or while walking through the airport. Take a few breaths to relax before you start eating and chew your food thoroughly to help facilitate digestion.

Once You Arrive

  • Continue to follow your regular schedule, both in terms of diet and lifestyle activities. For example, if you typically practice yoga or relaxation exercises in the morning, plan that into your daily routine.
  • Maximize nutrition in every bite and sip you take. This is not the time to consume empty foods that fill you up without providing any nutrients. Without proper nutrition, you’re less likely to have the energy to fully enjoy your vacation.
  • Experiment carefully and deliberately. If you’re going to try something you wouldn’t ordinarily eat at home, don’t do it impulsively. Be sure you have the time and flexibility to relax afterward should you feel sick.
  • Find ways to indulge that do not include food, such as treating yourself to a spa service or buying a special souvenir.
  • Be active, especially after meals. Many people find that walking helps to alleviate symptoms and improve digestion. It’s also a great way to explore your vacation destination!
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you’re traveling by air, vacationing somewhere warm, and/or engaging in physical activity. In addition to causing headaches and dizziness, dehydration can exacerbate symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
  • Respect your limitations and allow yourself to rest if you feel tired or symptomatic.
  • Have fun! While the demands of managing gastroparesis can seem overwhelming, especially while on vacation, adhering to these tips will allow you to more fully enjoy your time away.

Quick Tips

What does Gastroparesis-Friendly mean?

A food can generally be considered “gastroparesis-friendly” if:

  • It’s low in fat
  • It’s low in fiber
  • It doesn’t contain any nuts, seeds, skins, hulls, peels, or other indigestible parts

Anything that meets these criteria is unlikely to cause complications. However, individual tolerances vary greatly. Not all gastroparesis-friendly foods are well-tolerated by all gastroparesis patients. Likewise, some gastroparesis patients tolerate foods that are not technically gastroparesis-friendly. Careful experimentation is the key to figuring out what works best for you.

Packable Gastroparesis-Friendly Foods

  • Orgain (no refrigeration needed; pour over ice when ready to drink)
  • Almond Butter Carob MacroBars
  • PB2: Powdered Peanut Butter (stir into non-fat or low-fat yogurt for added protein and nutrients)
  • Individual packets of instant Cream of Wheat (make with water or skim milk; add a small sliced or mashed banana and a tablespoon of PB2 or creamy peanut butter)
  • Low-fiber cereal, such as Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, or Special K (add skim, soy, rice or almond milk)
  • Low-fiber crackers or low-fat graham crackers (spread with nut butter)
  • Individual serving size packets of creamy peanut butter or smooth almond butter (spread on toast, English muffins, or bagels)
  • Individual servings of applesauce, canned peaches or pears (stir into low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt)

Nausea Remedies

  • Ginger is a long-trusted natural remedy for nausea, which may also stimulate gastric emptying. Gin-Gins Boost candies from The Ginger People contain 30% fresh ginger and are easy to carry in your purse or pocket.
  • Nauzene is an anti-nausea and anti-acid medication that’s available over-the-counter as cherry-flavored chewable tablets.
  • QueaseEASE is an aromatic inhaler with a blend of lavender, peppermint, ginger, and spearmint oils, which together help to alleviate nausea. It’s portable, non-drowsy and drug-free.


Gastroparesis Prevention & Management Tips

There are lots of things that affect health and illness. Some you cannot control, but some you can.

Beyond making healthy lifestyle choices, having gastroparesis will likely push you to always be looking for what does and does not help, hurt, and work best for you. It’s not always easy but sorting this out can help you improve your health-related quality of life.

Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with gastroparesis. Taking some preventative steps can help you ease symptoms, lessen the unwanted effects on your daily life, and enhance your well-being.

Be Aware of Causes and Complications
Not only recognizing the symptoms, but also knowing the cause, and complications that can arise from gastroparesis, can help prevent delays in obtaining appropriate treatment.

Although most commonly the cause is unknown (idiopathic), in about 1 in 4 people with gastroparesis it occurs as a complication of long-standing diabetes.

Gastroparesis can also arise:

  • As a problem after some surgical procedures (particularly esophageal or upper abdominal surgeries)
  • After use of certain medications, such as narcotic pain killers, anticholinergic/antispasmodic agents, calcium channel blockers, some antidepressants, and some diabetes medications
  • In association with illnesses that affect the whole body, the nervous system, or connective tissue, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, systemic lupus, and scleroderma

Gastroparesis can lead to:

  • Severe dehydration due to persistent vomiting
  • Difficulty managing blood glucose (blood sugar) levels in individuals with gastroparesis associated with diabetes
  • The formation of clumps of undigested food (bezoars), which can cause nausea, vomiting, or obstruction
  • Malnutrition due to poor absorption of nutrients or a low calorie intake
  • Adverse events caused by drug interactions (treatments often may involve taking different classes of drugs to treat several symptoms, such as to reduce nausea, reduce pain, and lower blood glucose levels)

Prevention and Management Tips

  • Work with a registered dietician (RD) or nutrition support specialist (nurse or doctor) to design a dietary plan to meet your individual needs; understand how to use and maintain dietary and nutritional therapies.
  • Eat frequent, small meals that are low in fat and fiber. Fat, fiber, and large meals can delay stomach emptying and worsen symptoms.
  • Keep hydrated and as nutritionally fit as possible.
  • If you have diabetes, maintain good glucose control. Irregular stomach emptying can negatively affect blood sugar levels. Keeping your blood sugar under control may help stomach emptying.
  • Before having surgery, ask your doctor, surgeon, or health care team about risks involved and weigh these against the benefits. Ask about alternatives.
  • Let your doctor and pharmacist know about all medications you are taking – prescription and over-the-counter, as well as any supplements.
  • Be aware of possible drug interactions and discuss alternatives with your doctor.
  • Understand the possible side effects of your treatments, and know what to do if side effects occur.
  • Avoid or reduce alcohol and smoking tobacco. These can slow gastric emptying.
  • Engage in regular physical activity as you are able.

Seek appropriate care and take an active role in your health. Working along with your doctor or health care team will help control, reduce, or prevent symptoms and complications.


Sarcoma Symptoms, Causes, and Risks Factors


Signs and symptoms of sarcoma include:

  • A lump that can be felt through the skin that may or may not be painful
  • Bone pain
  • A broken bone that happens unexpectedly, such as with a minor injury or no injury at all
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss


It’s not clear what causes most sarcomas.

In general, cancer forms when changes (mutations) happen in the DNA within cells. The DNA inside a cell is packaged into a large number of individual genes, each of which contains a set of instructions telling the cell what functions to perform, as well as how to grow and divide.

Mutations might tell cells to grow and divide uncontrollably and to continue living when normal cells would die. If this happens, the accumulating abnormal cells can form a tumor. Cells can break away and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Risk factors

Factors that can increase the risk of sarcoma include:

  • Inherited syndromes.Some syndromes that increase the risk of cancer can be passed from parents to children. Examples of syndromes that increase the risk of sarcoma include familial retinoblastoma and neurofibromatosis type 1.
  • Radiation therapy for cancer.Radiation treatment for cancer increases the risk of developing a sarcoma later.
  • Chronic swelling (lymphedema).Lymphedema is swelling caused by a backup of lymph fluid that occurs when the lymphatic system is blocked or damaged. It increases the risk of a type of sarcoma called angiosarcoma.
  • Exposure to chemicals.Certain chemicals, such as some industrial chemicals and herbicides, can increase the risk of sarcoma that affects the liver.
  • Exposure to viruses.The virus called human herpesvirus 8 can increase the risk of a type of sarcoma called Kaposi’s sarcoma in people with weakened immune systems.


UV Radiation Safety

Taking steps to protect yourself from the sun is a year-round responsibility. Protect yourself and others from the sun with shade, a shirt, or sunblock (SPF 15+) all year long.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation that is emitted by the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds. While it has some benefits for people, including the creation of Vitamin D, it also can cause health risks.

  • Our natural source of UV radiation:
    • The sun
  • Some artificial sources of UV radiation include:
    • Tanning beds
    • Mercury vapor lighting (often found in stadiums and school gyms)
    • Some halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent lights
    • Some types of lasers

What are the different types of UV radiation rays?

UV radiation is classified into three primary types: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC). These groups are based on the measure of their wavelength, which is measured in nanometers (nm= 0.000000001 meters or 1×10-9 meters).


Wavelength315- 399 nm280-314 nm100-279 nm
Absorption LevelNot absorbed by the ozone layerMostly absorbed by the ozone layer, but some does reach the Earth’s surfaceCompletely absorbed by the ozone layer and atmosphere


All of the UVC and most of the UVB radiation is absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer, so nearly all of the ultraviolet radiation received on Earth is UVA. UVA and UVB radiation can both affect health. Even though UVA radiation is weaker than UVB, it penetrates deeper into the skin and is more constant throughout the year. Since UVC radiation is absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer, it does not pose as much of a risk.


Beneficial effects of UV radiation include the production of vitamin D, a vitamin essential to human health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food and assists bone development. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure 2 to 3 times a week.


  • Sunburn is a sign of short-term overexposure, while premature aging and skin cancer are side effects of prolonged UV exposure.
  • Some oral and topical medicines, such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and benzoyl peroxide products, as well as some cosmetics, may increase skin and eye sensitivity to UV in all skin types.
  • UV exposure increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases, if eye protection is not used.
  • Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to serious health issues, including cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Typically, they form on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms because these body parts are the most exposed to UV radiation. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to UV radiation.

Anyone can get skin cancer, but is more common in people who:

  • Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned.
  • Have light-color skin, hair, and eyes.
  • Have a family member with skin cancer.
  • Are over age 50.

To protect yourself from UV radiation:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
  • Consider options to protect your children.
  • Wear a wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, for both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of developing melanoma.

Source h

Protect Yourself, Family and Pets from Excessive Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation

UV Safety: Stay Safe in the Sun

  • Do Not Burn or Tan: Avoid intentional tanning. It may contribute to skin cancer and premature aging of skin
  • Seek Shade: Get under cover when the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm
  • Wear Protective Clothing: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and a wide-brimmed hat as well as UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Generously Apply Sunscreen: Use a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for protection from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which contribute to premature aging, sunburn and skin cancer. Always follow the label directions and apply sunscreen generously. Apply 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours, or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Choose sunscreens without chemicals harmful to marine life.
  • Use Extra Caution Near Water and Sand: These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn
  • Check the UV Index Every Day: The higher the UV index, the more you should do to protect yourself from the sun. When planning outdoor activities, follow EPA’s safety recommendations
  • Get Vitamin D safely: While the skin needs sunlight to help manufacture vitamin D, which is important for normal bone health, overexposure to UV light can be detrimental by damaging and killing skin cells. The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention recommends obtaining vitamin D through food and supplements, not through UV rays.
  • Protect Children from UV Rays: Children, the elderly and those with special needs may need special attention or be more sensitive to sun. Children tend to spend more time outdoors, can burn more easily, and may not be aware of the dangers of UV exposure. Parents and other caregivers should protect children from excess sun exposure by using the steps above. Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun using hats and protective clothing.


Healthy Eating for Juvenile Arthritis

There’s no special JA diet, but certain foods can promote healthy growth and development and help dial down inflammation.

By Amy Paturel

Eating a healthy diet is important for any growing child, but children with juvenile arthritis (JA) face an additional challenge: Eating foods that promote growth and development and help quiet inflammation. In the face of the coroavirus pandemic, it’s even more important to support your child’s health and immune system with a healthy, balanced diet.

Since diet plays a role in inflammatory processes, parents are increasingly turning to popular diets to tame painful arthritis symptoms in their kids. Unfortunately, no special diet can cure arthritis and there’s no evidence that certain foods or nutrients will stave off JA complications or comorbidities. Some of the trendier regimens may even put kids with JA at risk for dietary deficiencies, explains Denise Costanzo, a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Rheumatology Department at Cleveland Clinic.

The good news? A diet made up largely of whole, unprocessed foods and that limits inflammatory foods can reduce inflammation, while also supporting your child’s bone, joint and tissue health.

What to Eat

These foods promote healthy growth and development and can help dial down inflammation.

  • Fiber-Rich Foods. Plenty of research suggests eating a fiber-rich diet protects against inflammation. “So, instead of white rice, white bread and processed snacks, opt for whole grain varieties of these foods,” says Jennifer Hyland, RDN, part of the Pediatric Nutrition Support Team at Cleveland Clinic. Quinoa, sweet potatoes, beans and lentils are good examples. Fiber also helps move food through the digestive tract, which can help growing bodies hold on to important nutrients while filtering out toxins.
  • Clean Protein. “Protein is important for growth and development and to navigate the added demands of a long-term illness,” explains Houston, Texas-based rheumatologist, Rajat Bhatt, MD. Not only does protein support the immune system, it’s also a key building block for all muscle and tissue. While plant-based protein such as legumes, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds should top the list, other good protein sources include fatty fish (i.e., salmon) and lean cuts of poultry and grass-fed beef.
  • Colorful Fruits and Veggies. In adults, studies show that plant-based diets support health and stave off chronic disease. Folate-rich dark green leafy vegetables are especially important for kids taking methotrexate since the drug can cause deficiencies of this important nutrient. In fact, the darker and more colorful the produce, the more disease-fighting chemicals it contains. Solid examples include beets, berries, tomatoes, cherries, broccoli and kale. “I encourage parents to incorporate colorful vegetables into foods they’re already eating,” says Hyland. Mix them into smoothies, fold them into casseroles and bake them into chips. You can even dice up veggies and puree them into dips and spreads.
  • Herbs and Spices. Many herbs and spices boast anti-inflammatory properties, including ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and rosemary, says Hyland. A bonus: Herbs and spices amp up the flavor of food so you may use less sugar and salt.
  • Omega-3-Rich Foods. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines are heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory. Just watch the amounts, since all types of fish may be tainted with mercury, which can be risky for a developing brain, cautions Bhatt. Plant sources, including walnuts and seeds (such as flax, chia and hemp), contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a precursor to omega-3 fatty acids. The body can convert ALAs into omega-3s, but not as efficiently. If your child won’t eat fish, talk to your doctor about omega-3 supplements – and how much may be necessary, if at all, to support his growth and development.
  • Calcium and D-Rich Foods. Calcium and vitamin D are critical nutrients for all children. While both nutrients help build strong bones, studies suggest vitamin D has important immune-boosting properties. “A lot of kids with arthritis need to take some combination of calcium and vitamin D,” says Costanzo. This is especially true for children who are taking corticosteroids and medications like methotrexate, which may inhibit calcium absorption.

What to Avoid

Studies consistently show that the typical American diet, which prioritizes processed meats, sugar and chips over blackberries and kale, increases inflammatory processes in the body. Here are some major culprits:

  • Sugar. Whether from cookies, cakes and sweets or unsuspecting offenders like enriched “wheat” bread (make sure you opt for 100 percent whole-wheat), ketchup and salad dressing, sugar can increase blood sugar and lead to bacterial overgrowth in the gut. The result? More inflammation.
  • Saturated and Trans Fats. You can find these fats in animal products and coconut oil (saturated) and manufactured foods in the form of partially hydrogenated oils (trans). Both types hang out in the body and release inflammatory proteins into the bloodstream. That’s one reason why popular diet plans, including the high-fat Keto diet, can be problematic. Fatty and processed meats and butter are big-time offenders. In some circles, the jury is still out on coconut oil – in part because the plant-based saturated fat is mostly made of medium-chain fatty acids, which the body processes differently. But some major health organizations, like the American Academy of Dietetics and the American Heart Association, advise against it. For now, it’s probably best to err on the safe side: Use it sparingly and make heart-healthy olive oil your go-to instead.
  • Artificial Ingredients. If your child’s immune system is already overloaded and confused, you don’t want to give it another unrecognizable substance to digest. Steer clear of partially hydrogenated oils (also code for trans fat), high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes and sweeteners, suggests Bhatt. Better yet, avoid foods listing more than five or six ingredients.
  • Charred Foods. Foods that are grilled, especially fatty cuts of meat and foods that have been charred black, have more pro-inflammatory compounds. So, instead of firing up the barbeque to grill or blacken your favorite foods, turn to your stovetop or oven. Broiling, steaming and baking are all good options.


Bottom Line

“Healthy eating should really be a family affair,” emphasizes Bhatt. “Parents should never single out a child with JA by putting them on a special diet or treating them differently.”

Hyland suggests that the family follows a Mediterranean-style diet, which including olive oil, fish and lean protein, fruits, vegetables and nuts and seeds. “Such diets are naturally rich in important nutrients including vitamin A, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids,” she says.

Still, it’s important to recognize that some kids with arthritis may have different dietary needs, depending on which medications they take and if they have any food intolerances or allergies. During flares, some kids may even lose their appetite.

Your best bet? “Work with a dietitian to help ensure your child is meeting requirements for growth and development,” says Costanzo. “And always check with your doctor before embarking on a special dietary plan that cuts out entire food groups.”